What Who needs to do this year is go back to the roots of the revival. That’s my thinking.
I appreciate that over the last few years, we have experienced a rebirth and with it, the guidings hands involved have taken it upon themselves to try different approaches.
All the series have had an arc plot – which I like. I can’t argue with the concept of that. When you’re watching a show for a baker’s dozen of episodes, it’s nice to have a sense that you’re involved at a deeper level than a more casual viewer. I get that. It means that someone can come in and have an experience of Who for the first time without necessarily needing to undergo a pre-viewing training session. On the other hand, those who have spent the time coming back time and again have the chance to see a bigger story develop.
Of course, those who commit themselves to the Doctor Who concept on a yet wider level can have the appreciation of a meta-plot. Gallifrey and the Time Lords actions in the Time War has offered this. The Doctor has struggled with the actions of his people and the steps they took. For those viewing the new series since Eccleston, the Time War has been a background hum from the outset. Since the second episode, when Jabe, of the Forest of Cheem, recognised the Doctor and saw the pain in his existing as the last of his kind – we have been on a journey.
Beyond plots, we have had some great writers – especially some of the guest writers in the last couple of series, superb guest actors, marvellous leads, fine villains – and the triumphs of the anniversary episode…
However, at the same time, we have lost some of the wonder, and certainly lost the sense of regularity.
In the old days, you could be guaranteed of a Who dose at a certain time on a certain day. In the last couple of years, the BBC has thrown Who around like a ragdoll. You wouldn’t catch the Beeb doing this sort of thing with Eastenders – and yet every episode in the last series of Who aired at a different time on Saturday evening. Pretty much (if not all) started at a different point – and while technology and hard drive recorders can communicate and adjust, the same can’t always be said of flesh-and-blood viewers.
This year, with Peter Capaldi stepping into the shoes of the Doctor and taking on the controls of the TARDIS, I would like to see Doctor Who set in its place. It needs to have a spot all its own. I want to sit down at a specific time on Saturday evening, switch on the TV and know that Doctor Who will start in a moment and I will see Capaldi and Coleman in action. I don’t want to have to keep notes or have to check the calendar. I don’t want to need a copy of some TV guide to keep pace with the changing schedule.
On top of that, I want to have a 13-week uninterrupted run. We haven’t had one of those in a long time. I don’t think it would be too much to ask to see out a three month period with Who arriving on time, the same time, every Saturday night. I daresay the BBC should have the scheduling talents to manage such a feat without anyone breaking too much of a sweat.
Doctor Who has the popularity to make the BBC a lot of money even when it isn’t running new shows. While not quite on the scale of Star Wars or Star Trek, Doctor Who provides the Beeb with a merchandising gold mine. The concepts of Who have spreads across the whole world – of the time traveller and his companions travelling through history and space in a battered old telephone box. Most imagine he also has a floppy brimmed hat and a very long scarf – and we thank Tom Baker for that. He has left an indelible mark on the history of the show and the mythos of Who.
Mr Moffat – please can I have Doctor Who served up 13 weeks in a row in the same time slot on a Saturday night in 2014. I don’t ask for more special effects, guest stars or anything too much at all. Give me Capaldi and Coleman in stories that excite and entertain – and I will be a very happy Doctor Who fan indeed.